Would Heath Bell consider a return to the Mets?

Going into this offseason the Mets have couple of holes they’d like to take care of. Besides the giant gaping hole that is Jose Reyes, there are other problems, such as who is going to be the closer for next year’s team.

The perfect successor for this role after Francisco Rodriguez, seemed to be Bobby Parnell. With his 100 MPH fastball and his 90 slider, he was the obvious choice to be the 9th inning man for the Mets. However, as good of stuff as he has batters can hit (which I still don’t understand how). It seems that Parnell’s best hopes for next season will be being the set-up man for whoever the Mets find.

Sandy Alderson has said that if the team can’t solve the closing role in-house (which seems to be the case) that they will go outside the organization. And if there is any year to look to the free-agent class for a closer, 2012 is that year. Let’s take a look at some of the names there: Heath Bell, Jonathan Broxton, Matt Capps, Francisco Cordero (option), Kyle Farnsworth (option, will most likely be picked up), Joe Nathan, Jonathan Papelbon, Francisco Rodriguez, Jose Valverde (option, will most likely be picked up).

Take your pick. The most interesting name on this list for Mets fans has to be Heath Bell. You remember Mr. Bell, no? The guy ran in from the bullpen and slid into the mound at the All-Star game. Or maybe you remember him better as the guy who pitched for the Mets from 2004 to 2006. He spent those three seasons bouncing back and forth between the majors and AAA. He didn’t put up great numbers in the majors, (4.92 ERA, 1.472 WHIP, 108 IP, 105 K, 30 BB), but in his defense he was on a bus every other week going back to Norfolk. After the 2006 season the Mets trade him to San Diego and from there he blossomed into one of the best closers in the game. The past three seasons he’s collected 134 saves, been an All-Star every season, and finish 8th in the Cy Young voting in 2010.

With the Mets never really giving him a legitimate shot to succeed at the big leagues, he understandably holds a grudge against the Mets.

Now, going into the 2012 season, the Mets have the option to bring back Bell. However, now the tables are turned, and it’s going to be Bell who will be the one to decide whether he will pitching in the majors for the Mets or not. He might not want any part of the Mets after the way they treated him, but this is an entirely new front office from when he was with the team five seasons ago.

When he was with the Mets Omar Minaya was responsible  for most of his call-ups and send-downs and his eventual trade to the Padres. Minaya had a knack for trading good young arms that offseason. Remember Brian Bannister, Henry Owens, and Matt Lindstrom? All of them were traded in a month’s span with Bell. Now none of them went on to have great careers, but they could have certainly helped out the Mets in 2007 and 2008, and maybe even gotten them into the playoffs.

But now Minaya is gone and Alderson and his group of All-Star front office men are in charge. But does that change the way Bell will feel about the Mets? Does he hold malice against the front office that treated him so poorly, or does he despise the Mets as a unit?

If I was Bell, I wouldn’t have a ton of student loans to pay back and I wouldn’t work part-time at Chili’s. But I also wouldn’t rule out the Mets just because they treated you poorly in the past. That front office is out of the picture now. If I were him, I’d stay away from Minaya. If Minaya ended up signing  deal to become a GM for a new team, I would stay away from that team.

Bell needs to do what is best for him. He needs to take the best offer, from the team that’s going to give him the best shot to win. He is the best closer on the market in my opinion, but the fact that there are many other very capable closer out will lower the value of his contract compared to other years. This is what might give the Mets a chance to sign him.

The Mets do have money to spend after Reyes, it’s just if they want to shell out the money for a 34-year old closer. Add that to if Bell even wants to come back to New York, which maybe in his heart he actually does. There are reasons to come back to the Mets:

  • Having the glory of being a closer in New York City.
  • Being able to come back to the team that drafted you.
  • Being part of a young, energetic team that could surprise people in 2012.
  • It’s a new front office from when you were there five years ago.
  • Being able to come back to a closer that you struggled with and produce the numbers you wanted to when you were there.

But there are also reasons not to come back to New York:

  • Having the scrutiny of being a closer in New York City.
  • Not wanting to come back to the team that gave up on you.
  • Being part of a team that probably won’t be serious contenders for the next year or two.
  • Your ex-team treated you like crap and you don’t want to go back there.
  • You hate the Mets and you relish any chance you get to go up against them and beat them.

In the end I don’t think he will sign with the Mets. The Mets won’t give him the three year deal for the money he is looking for, and I think he still had bad feelings towards the Mets. In an interview back in 2010 Bell was asked about his time with the Mets and he said, “That’s why I have a lot of hostility toward my ex-team.” He’d go on to say, “I got told things I found out weren’t true. I wasn’t always hearing the whole story.”